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Late Developer - The story of a Jumbled Life


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For some who are fortunate enough, life can more or less be expected to follow a certain order. By that I mean that a person is born into a more or less loving and supportive family and enjoys a generally happy and contented childhood. Then the child moves into adolescence and with guidance and support from his family, learns how to make important choices and decisions that carry him securely into adulthood. The next phase is one where careers are formed, interests and ones ‘tribe’ are found and a like-minded mate is attracted. Time then for making a nest and kids of their own. Around this stage in life, their own aging parents may be in need of support and care. From middle-age or perhaps a little further on, inevitable parental bereavements may bring the individual into a phase of questioning and spirituality. Then comes the golden years of retirement and with luck the joy of being a grandparent and the ability to enjoy the ‘view’ of all the ups and downs of a full and well lived life before accepting that it is now their time to ‘move on’.

Sadly, for many of us, life just doesn’t follow the ‘usual’ route and our life phases are interrupted and become jumbled up. A more or less balanced and successful journey into adulthood is known in the psychological world as ‘individuation’. Those of us whose childhood and adolescences are ruptured by trauma do not complete individuation into adulthood when we ‘should’. Individuation comes to us much later in life and usually only after a lot of soul searching, running in circles or taking wrong turns, self-help and therapy.

I am one of those late developers and I often feel like I have gone through the stages of my life backwards or that I somehow managed to bypass important parts of the sequence. I suffered major bereavements as a child and adolescent and I think this is why my mind started to deeply ponder questions I just shouldn’t have been asking at that stage in my life 'Who am I?', 'Where did I come from?' 'Where did dad/gran/mum go to?' 'Where will I go to?' ‘Whats wrong with me and why do I feel so alone?’ 'Is this it or is there a greater plan?'

The awareness of mortality and death came to me in a phase where I should have been experiencing freedom and the joys and possibilities of life, where any bereavement suffered should have matched my childhood capabilities of grieving, say no more than the loss of a much loved family pet or a distant elderly relative. Thrown into the mix was a good helping of emotional deprivation from my surviving parent and one ‘very angry at the world’ alcoholic elder half-brother and there was one very confused, lonely, abandoned and unhappy little girl. My mother didn’t survive much past my very rebellious teens and so it followed that I became a very confused, lonely, abandoned, unhappy and totally un-individuated adult!

Losing my parents early caused me to enter the spiritual phase of my life much sooner than most. Consequently, I 'missed' my growing up years and didn't make the most of my education, nor did I discover a career or purpose for myself at the 'usual' time.

Presently, I notice more and more of my middle-aged friends are having the experience of either losing or having elderly dependent parents to care for and it is they now who are suddenly reaching out to religion and spirituality in search of answers to their own questions. Back in the mid 80's when my peers were busy experimenting with soft drugs and the opposite sex, I was meditating in ashrams and doing organic juice fasts. Then, in the early 90's when my pals were all settling down to serious careers and making their nests, I graduated from my yogi blanket into a retro/bohemian lifestyle with parties till dawn. These experiences left me with a feeling of being out of step somehow with my own generation, an outsider and a misfit.

Our mother’s workaholism left us with a generous legacy and by my early 20’s I had taken over the refurbishment and running of her hospitality business, for which I have felt simultaneously grateful and resentful for over the past 22years. In gratitude, it has afforded me much free time and a sufficient income to nurture and attend to my daughters’ needs. In resentment, it has kept me just tied up enough financially with my now very sober brother and just busy enough to ‘avoid’ following through on my own dreams. Until now, I have allowed ‘it’ to keep me just guilty enough (in comparison with those around me) to ‘prevent’ me from dealing with my more ‘uncomfortable’ feelings towards my mother. I am now ready to face these issues head on.

Although I experienced ‘late developer’ career ideas around my early 30’s, at that time two wonderful gifts arrived – my lovely daughters (sadly not with a well chosen mate) and my attention turned to the most important job of all, nurturing them. Career plans were placed on the back burner where they have been perculating nicely for 12 years. Before I know it, my beautiful girls with their so far very fortunate and un-jumbled lives will be entering their own phase of adulthood. Now it’s time to retrieve those dreams and ideas of mine and begin the preparations for the time fast approaching when I can finally fire them into action.

And so it is that when most of my peers are supporting their aging parents and dreaming of a time when they can enjoy the freedom of their approaching golden years, I am planning to use the education of my life experiences to finally enter the ‘self-purpose phase’ of my life. In the near future when the time is right for me, I am going to finally break from the ‘family’ business where my much loved but very lazy sibling has to date successfully managed to play the role of ‘sleeping partner’. I am learning that instead of trying to invent yet more ways to get him actively involved and continue to complain about him, that I have the ‘choice’ to change our dynamic. The choice to break away from my past and move on.

My new business will be a healthy eco-friendly one by all accounts and if I am fortunate enough with my own health and longevity, I hope it will take me well into my own golden years, where I have just one or two more phases I’d like the chance to live out. It is my hope that I will one day experience the joy of grandchildren and perhaps finally be healthy enough myself to be able to choose a suitable companion to share and live out my aging childhood with!

I used to carry the belief that I was different and had somehow missed out on large chunks of my life. Now I believe that just because I haven’t experienced the same phases others have so far, doesn’t mean I won’t. Should I be fortunate enough to live the average three score years and ten, then for me some of the best bits are yet to come and with luck some of the most difficult phases are behind me!

Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I'd love to hear the experiences of other adult-children who were parentally bereaved.

Regards Nelly

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Hi Nelly

Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I'd love to hear the experiences of other adult-children who were parentally bereaved.

I wasn't parenteral bereaved as a child, but I may as well of been!

My parents were never around long enough! What I mean is; My father was a long distance lorry driver, so many a time when he came home which was very late of a night/early morning, I would be in bed, so I never even knew he'd been home? I didn't even know him till I was 5 years old.

My mother was always working, so I would see her when she got home from work which was tea time, and I knew not to disturb her when she got in, because she was always tired! Depending on what mood she was in when she did come home, I either spent my time avoiding her, so as not to fall victim of her abuse, or I locked myself in my bedroom every night, trying to figure what sort of a mood she was in.

I left home at 15 years of age and have never looked back!

I live as a single parent now and have Two grown up sons of my own, aged 27yrs & 21yrs. The 21yr old lives with me. He goes to College through the day & is a DJ (Disc Jockey) of a weekend. The 27yr old, works with Computers for P.C World. My 21yr old actually runs his own Forum Site called Lazy Records. He's site is exactly the same as this one!

My father is now dead. he died 5yrs ago, from a Heart Attack. My mother is still living but I very rarely see her. Birthdays/ Christmas etc, and that's only because I make the effort, otherwise, we wouldn't see each other at all! She never ever phones me to see how I am? I used to do everything for her! Drive her everywhere, buy her what she wanted, always got in touch practically every night, to make sure she was alright! Then one day I thought to myself, lets see how long it is going to be before she gets in touch with me, because I'm sick of having to be the one to always make the first move! I waited 12 months, & in the end, it was Christmas so I took a present up for her.

So basically that is it!

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